Soft shoe shuffling out of a stuck situation

We were a consortium with 7 organisations and about 20 people and were about to publish the book “Hosting Transformation”. We had been gathering material, had a budget for printing, were quite far in our ideation process, but realized that we had all different opinions about the purpose of the book. It was an afternoon after two meeting days, a few people were speaking and making suggestions, many were exhausted by the dull conversation and could hardly listen to the contrary positions that seemed irreconcilable. We felt stuck and with each further minute of discussion we lost hope of finding a common agreement about the focus of the book. Then we shifted to the soft shoe shuffle. Suddenly life came back into the group. Standing and moving helped a lot. The statements were short and precise, no longer epic speeches. You couldn’t just dream away anymore – it was important to find the proper position in the room. Within minutes the whole group was awake again, engaged into proposing statements. While positioning in the room and having some time to connect with the statement, you could easily perceive what felt right about the statement and what felt wrong and needed adjustment. There was a joy in proposing a statement and seeing the immediate reaction. After about 20 minutes we had a group consensus on the book’s purpose, everyone had the feeling of being heard and seen and we were fully energized.

Further typical situations we use soft shoe shuffle for:

– After a research phase in an innovation team (e.g. interviews in small groups): Bringing together individual observations and getting a group feel about the whole situation to fully understand a problem before we go into an ideation process.
– Finding a group consensus about a controversal topic in the group.
– Finding an idea (e.g. a slogan for a campaign. Be careful, it is not suitable for complex ideas.)